Skip to main content

Panama Could Follow El Salvador, Make Cryptocurrency Legal Tender

Bitcoin and Ethereum stock image
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

El Salvador became the first country to declare Bitcoin legal tender on Tuesday. It might not take long for other countries to follow suit, because on Wednesday Panamanian congressman Gabriel Silva introduced a bill with similar intentions.

Everything about Silva's announcement was digital native: The crypto-focused bill was revealed in a tweet with an embedded video of the Panamanian congressman expressing his enthusiasm for the proposal, along with a shortened link to a PDF containing the bill's text stored on Google Drive. Welcome to modern politics.

See more

Silva's bill is actually more expansive than El Salvador's so-called Bitcoin Law. His proposal would see Panama declare multiple cryptocurrencies, including but not limited to Bitcoin and Ethereum, as legal tender. It would also explore the use of blockchain technology for other purposes, such as handling identification services.

It remains to be seen if the precedent set by El Salvador will help or hinder Silva's efforts. El Salvador's rollout didn't go well: BBC reported that Apple and Huawei didn't offer the Chivo digital wallet at the start, which limited its reach, yet its servers had to be taken down after they failed to keep up with user registration attempts.

Bitcoin's value also plummeted shortly after El Salvador declared the cryptocurrency legal tender. Coinbase data puts the price of BTC at roughly $52,944 at 11pm ET on September 6; less than 24 hours later it had dropped to approximately $42,830. That's a big loss for a country that purchased 400 BTC on September 6.

Now we'll see how that influences Silva's efforts to have Panama fully embrace Bitcoin and Ethereum. The bill is certainly more permissive than similar crypto-related legislation introduced recently: CNBC reported that Cuba, the U.S., Germany, and Ukraine have all taken (much smaller) steps to allow official cryptocurrency usage.